There is some question as to whether dogs’ responses to human social cues are a direct result of domestication or whether environ-mental factors play a role. This study reviewed what is known about the ability of shelter dogs and pet dogs to follow certain human social signals.
A substantial bond between a pet dog and its owner seems to have a significant impact on the dog’s response to human social cues. Shelter dogs may lack environmental stimulation, may be subject to chronic stressors, and may be deprived of attachment bonding to handlers during their limited interactions with humans. Differences in typical housing situations were compared; it was found that if shelter dogs are able to form bonds with handlers, those bonds may not be as strong as pet dogs’ bonds with owners.